The breathtaking performance crowned the final night of the fifteenth anniversary run of the Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival. Fifteen hundred artists from Russia and all over the globe made up part of the Festival’s combined band that stepped onto the cobblestones of Red Square on the tenth Festival night.
Throughout its fifteen years, the Festival has turned into one of the most anticipated events, both for the audience and the artists.
This celebration of music has already exceeded the framework of a common festival, growing into a spectacular show with magnificent fireworks and fire-shows, and complex musical and choreographical programs. Previously, Honor Guard Units accompanied military band performances; this year, they have become full-fledged participants.
This year, the audience had a chance to witness the President’s Band of the Moscow Kremlin Commandant’s Service performing together with the Honor Guard Unit. The band rarely performs in public, which is why Spasskaya Tower Festival audiences look forward to seeing it and always greet the musicians with standing ovations.With bated breath, the stands were watching the clear, polished movements of the military men, getting excited with the final carbines’ shots.
The honor guard units also became part of the presentations showcased by the Exemplary Band of the Belarus Armed Forces, the Military Band of the 154 Preobrazhensky Regiment, the Combined Band of the Russian Armed Forces, and the Exemplary Band of the National Guard Forces of Russia.
The fifteenth season of the Festival featured a plethora of dancing ensembles. The members of the Central Band of the Russian Border Guard Service performed a beautiful and, at the same time, risky dance on a platform in the form of a Zhostovo tray, which was held high above the square. The band’s performance was complemented by an incendiary fire show. The stands were also deeply impressed by the powerful performances staged by the paratroopers, who unfurled the flag of the Airborne Forces over an area of 1200 sq m in Red Square.
This year, as many as three bands representing the Russian National Guard Forces took part in the Festival, featuring the Military Band of the Russian National Guard Chief Department for the Krasnodar Region, the Exemplary Band of the Russian National Guard Forces, and the Military Band of the Central National Guard District Headquarters. All three groups showed very diverse programs and evoked a lively response from the audience. The most touching performance at the Spasskaya Tower was the debut of the young violinists of the Merry Notes ensemble from Lugansk.
According to Mr. Sergey Smirnov, Head of the Festival Directorate, he really enjoyed the performance of the Armenian team. "Egypt, Thailand, Venezuela, and India are great countries. Without a doubt, as always, our Belarusian friends are at their best", shared his impressions of Mr. Smirnov.
"I have come to a wonderful conclusion. The Russian bands have greatly contributed to the overall pattern of the Festival, both as our permanent participants and those making their debut. They presented very beautiful and worthwhile programs. And we are very happy", he stressed.
Both the Russian and foreign ensembles were greeted with standing ovations as they arrived and left the stage.
The foreign bands have been so delighted by the Russian audiences that after the end of each show they gathered in front of the State Historic Museum to treat them to another musical piece of cake. The guests were enthusiastically listening, taking photos and applauding, and were in no hurry to leave Red Square.
"If we talk about the immediate results of the Festival, I’d like to point out that, content-wise, they have carried out a very rich and interesting Festival, and managed to achieve our aim. First of all, we managed to retain the international format", highlighted Sergey Khlebnikov, Artistic Director of the Festival.
According to him, the Spasskaya Tower Festival also saw light due to the extremely positive atmosphere among the bands taking part in the Festival, both from Russia and abroad. "And, for sure, I must highlight the tightly-knit teamwork", noted Mr. Khlebnikov.
Major General Timofey Mayakin, Head of the Military Band Service of the Russian Armed Forces-Chief Military Conductor, called the Festival’s fifteenth year mindblowing. "The Festival has not ended yet, but we have already begun to receive applications from teams from Latin America and Asia. Our European friends are calling and writing, saying that they could not take part in this year’s run. Still, they do not lose hope of coming in the future", said the music director of the Spasskaya Tower Festival. According to him, many of the bands that took part in the Festival this year would like to return to Red Square more than once.
Mr. Sergey Smirnov, Head of the Festival Directorate, admitted that the Festival’s anniversary run was a success. "And this is not only my opinion; these are numerous reviews of the Festival guests and partners, those who have been with us for the last fifteen years. The reviews are all positive. Therefore, I dare to hope that everything has turned out to be a success", shared his opinion Mr. Sergey Smirnov. He said that the head of the World Marching Band Organization (WMBO) was present at the Festival. The WMBO unites about 280 music ensembles from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and other states that in the future may become part of the Spasskaya Tower Festival.
Speaking about the success of the equestrian program, which this year unfolded at the National Center of Equestrian Traditions at VDNH, the head of the Festival Directorate noted that the Spasskaya Tower Military Tattoo had started a tradition of holding various children's riding competitions, including show jumping, dressage, etc.
"And the number of participants in these competitions is increasing year by year. This year, all the Festival daytime activities have been transferred to VDNH. Of course, we would like to return the horse-riding arena to Red Square, so the main part of the equestrian program could unfold at VDNH, while Red Square will host the most spectacular ones", said Mr. Sergey Smirnov.
For the last fifteen years, the horse-riding arena on Red Square has become the hallmark of the Festival. Every year, a lot of people come to see the unforgettable performances staged by the Cavalry Escort of the Presidential Regiment. This year, the team is celebrating its 20th birthday, so they have prepared a dazzling performance for all their fans at VDNH.
Still, the organizers couldn’t leave the audiences on Red Square without an equestrian program. The final night of the Festival welcomed Martina Staemmler-Gerusel, the international guest from Germany, with her two Vladimir heavy-horses, Katyusha and Shokoladka, as well as the riders of the Kremlin Equestrian School. The German rider came to Red Square with the flag of Russia in her hands. Today her dream came true-she performed on Red Square.
Throughout the ten Festival’s days Moscow’s Red Square welcomed the Military Band and Honor Guard Unit of the 154th Preobrazhensky Regiment, the Central Band of the Russian Border Guard Service, the Great Military Band of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces ‘Supreme Commander Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias’ from Venezuela, the Exemplary Band of the Russian National Guard Forces, the President’s Band of the Moscow Kremlin Commandant Service of the Federal Guard Service with the Honor Guard Unit, the Military Band of the Russian National Guard Chief Department for the Krasnodar Region, the Panghat Performing Arts Group, the Boonwattana School Marching Band, the Egyptian Military Symphonic Band, the Central Military Band of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Suvorov Cadet Band of the Moscow Military Music College together with the Girl Drummers Band of the All-Girls Boarding School (the Russian Ministry of Defense), the Exemplary Band and Honor Guard of the Belarus Armed Forces, the Band of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff, the Merry Notes Children's Violin Ensemble, the Combined Band of the Russian Airborne Forces; as well as several popular singers including Sergey Mazaev, Alexander F. Sklyar, Oleg Gazmanov, Fyodor Rytikov, Vasily Ladyuk, Veronica Dumpe, Albert Zhalilov and SHAMAN.
Along with the bands staging solo performances on the cobblestones of Red Square, the Festival’s combined band featured the Military Band of the First Army of the Air Defense and Anti-missile Defense Forces of Russia, the Exemplary Military Band of the Honor Guard, the Band of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, and the Military Band of the Felix Dzerzhinskiy Separate Operational Purpose Division of the National Guard Forces of Russia.
The magnificent fireworks colored the skies above Red Square, waving a farewell to the Festival.
Among the Festival’s guests of honor were Chargé d'affaires a.i. at the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the Russian Federation, Advisor to the Ambassador Mr. Andres Gonzalez, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Russian Federation Riad Haddad, Deputy Defense Attaché of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the Russian Federation, Colonel Mohamed Abu Alazm.
The Festival is carried out following the Order of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, under the aegis of the Public Council headed by Mr. Alexander Zhukov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, with the support of the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Moscow Department of Culture.
Photo: Anne Klein, Maria Moskvitsova, Andrey Golovanov, Nikolay Tretyak